Barn Wood and Rusted Metal

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Build, Recent Posts, Salvage | 14 comments

Barn Wood and Rusted Metal

There was a barn across the street from our little homestead, a real leaner. We’ve watched it lean a little more each month. The weight of the two feet of snow two weeks ago made it lean to the point that it was unsafe, so the owner pulled it over. Karl was working on the big house when he heard it crash. He ran into the tiny house like a little boy, “The barn! I think someone is taking it down.” He went straight across the street, talked to the man, and came back smiling. “I can take everything I want and leave the rest. He’s just going to use it for firewood.”

Barn Across the Street Caved Barn Splintered Sky Barn


Score! This is our second barn. The first one was a prominent barn that stood just off of 221 near the Little River. That barn is already part of our big house.

Karl and the 221 barn Side of 221 Barn Inside 221 Barn


During Karl’s long work days taking down barns, he gets to know the materials. The dust of the last century blows in his face and he hears the whispers of the wood. Some boards tell him I want to be a sled rail. Others want to be a chicken coop. Others want to be part of the big house. 

This new barn will add more rusted corrugated metal and beefy beams to our barn wood stack. A good bit of the wood inside is still solid and in great shape. We are using barn metal as part of the siding for the big house, so the best pieces of metal will end up on the big house. Karl will use rubber-gasket screws through the existing holes on the metal, and then we will seal it.

Salvaged Barn Wood


Salvaging is fun and rewarding and it gives a look and feel we could only achieve through this method. And then there’s the story. This metal was a barn across the street. It lived through 80 winters holding snow and blocking wind, then it caved and curled and leaned and crashed. And some man came running to its rescue to bring it home and give it a new life.

This man is my husband. A determined, passionate builder who loves to “make something out of nothing.” The artist wakes up in the builder who uses salvage. He works with the material and the application and comes up with a creative solution to use what he has. The process is exciting and so very rewarding. He builds a house of this place, a house that belongs.

Karl is sorting the barn wood across the street and will bring it home and stack it with our first salvaged barn at the bottom of the property. When the time comes, we will choose wood for interior walls, and who knows what else. I know these materials will create the handmade home with history and place that we want.

Salvaged Barn Wood Pile


Some of the wood has amazing character, but is too weathered to be part of the house. I think when we finish building the big house, we’ll have to start building tiny houses for birds–barn wood bird houses with cute little rusty metal roofs. That is something to look forward to. Man, I think you could build a few in an afternoon. What a dreamy pace.

I guess this makes us barn collectors.

Salvage is one of the ways we reduce the cost of building. We pay with time instead of money. It isn’t necessarily cheaper if we factor in the value of our time, but we are able to spend our time doing something we love, and we gain a pleasing result.  We’ve learned so much on our path to mortgage-freedom, and we’re excited to share it all with you.

We are guiding a group of motivated folks down the path to mortgage-freedom right now, and we have a second group starting May 10th. We’d love to have you join us. Read about this opportunity here.

Barn Metal and Hemlock

After helping over 250 people get started on the path to mortgage-freedom, we've learned a lot more about what it takes, the pitfalls, the tricks and triumphs of living a zero-debt life of intention. We're taking what we've learned and creating a whole new series of courses to help even more of you reach your dreams. Sign up for our newsletter to get first dibs on the limited seats in our new course.


  1. Way to go! That’s a pretty stellar score! I am looking forward to following your journey. Best wishes 🙂

    • Hi Kelli,
      Thanks! We are super excited about all the possibilities. Thanks for reading, and welcome! I’m glad you are here.

  2. Hello Hari it’s Stacie Kelley…..all the way back to Beaumont middle school! I just saw your totally inspiring and intriguing story! I LOVE it. Of course I am having to get caught up to date. I will continue to follow!
    Love to you and your beautiful family!

    • Wow! Hi there, old friend. So nice to get a blast from the past. I hope all is well in your world! 🙂

  3. Love what you are doing…wish I was younger so I could accomplish building a home that way, or actually remodeling a barn to live in. I like reading your blogs and will be looking forward to the next one. Stay safe, well and warm 🙂

    • Thanks, Liz! I hope we get to meet in person someday soon. I know you are just over that mountain there.

  4. I love the way you are writing! Sure I will go on following your blog! Thinking of you here in Germany – love to all of you

    • Thank you for reading and for leaving such an encouraging comment, Anja! Love to you and yours!

  5. That is awesome! I love how you feel the old barns speak to you, I feel the same way, I grew up on a a farm in Eighty-Four, PA, and the barn collapsed a few years ago, we saved as much as we could, it was in terrible shape, but I fell such a connection to it still, the foundation is all that stands along with one first floor wall, and the ‘new’ part of the barns cow stantions which I use for pole beans and morning glories and the old feed trough for peppers in years past, but this year, I’ll plant strawberries, I think. 🙂 They talk to you. 🙂

    • I’m so glad you can relate. I love the history of old wood. And, yes, strawberries speak loud and clear! 🙂

  6. Wonderful story! I am working on repurposing old wood as well, and found this while looking for tips to remove rusty corrugated fasteners from what will once again be a beautiful table (with a bit of work!) and I was wondering if you or your husband had any tips?

    • I will ask him!

      • Thank you!

        • He said he’d use a flathead screwdriver and needle-nose pliers. If you can’t get them out without a lot of damage to the wood, pound them in and leave them.